Shoup, George L. (George Laird), 1836-1904

Alternative names
Birth 1836-06-15
Death 1904-12-21

Biographical notes:

Governor of Idaho Territory, 1889-1890; Governor of Idaho, 1890; U.S. Senator, 1890-1901.

From the description of Papers, 1861-1899. (University of Idaho Library). WorldCat record id: 42927417

Born June 15, 1836, in Kittanning, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, and educated in the public schools of Freeport and Slate Lick, George Laird Shoup moved to Galesburg, Illinois with his father in 1852. In 1859 he joined the gold rush to Pike's Peak, Colorado, becoming a prospector, miner, and merchant.

When the Civil War broke out he enlisted in an independent company of scouts and was engaged in scouting and detached service against Indians in Colorado, Indian Territory and New Mexico. In December of 1861 he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Colorado Cavalry and was promoted to first lieutenant in February of 1862. In the spring of that year he was in command of artillery at Fort Union, New Mexico and was involved in numerous skirmishes with Indians. In September of 1864 he was commissioned a Colonel in the Third Colorado Cavalry and commanded the regiment at the battle of Sand Creek, Colorado. He was honorably discharged from the military in December of 1864.

Shoup took a short leave of absence from the military in the spring of 1863 when he was elected as a delegate to the Colorado constitutional convention. Colorado was not admitted to the union at that time and the work of the convention was abandoned.

In 1866 he moved to Virginia City, Montana, where he started a store, but then gold was discovered in Leesburg, Idaho, and he moved across the Continental Divide, opening another store in the city of Salmon, where, in addition to merchandising, he also engaged in cattle raising. Soon he became one of the most successful businessmen in the Intermountain West.

On June 15, 1868 he married Lena Darnuster of Iowa. They were the parents of three sons and three daughters.

Continuing his political career, he served as one of the original Lemhi County Commissioners in 1869, and was chosen county superintendent of schools in 1872. He was elected to the lower house of the territorial legislature in 1874 and in 1878 he was elected to the upper house. He was a delegate to the Republican national convention in 1880, and served on the Republican National Committee from 1880 to 1884, and again in 1888.

In 1884 Shoup was appointed commissioner to the World's Cotton Centennial at New Orleans. He contributed $35,000 out of his own pocket to make possible the first display of Idaho Territory's products in the East.

President Benjamin Harrison, because of his previous service on the Senate Committee on Territories, was aware of the defects in territorial administration. For this reason he decided not to appoint outsiders as territorial officials, instead, choices were recommended by party leaders of the territories concerned. As a result of this policy, George L. Shoup was appointed governor of Idaho in 1889. As governor he arranged to have a constitutional convention assembled so that the territory would be ready for admission as a state the following year. After signing the new constitution on August 6, 1889, he went to Washington, D.C. where he took a prominent part in getting the Idaho admissions bill through Congress.

After Idaho became a state on July 1, 1890, Shoup agreed to run for governor, although it was understood that his real interest was to represent the new state in the U.S. Senate. He was elected governor in 1890 and remained in that position until the legislature elected him Senator in December of that year. He remained in the Senate until March of 1901, when he was succeeded by Democrat Fred Dubois. After leaving the Senate he retired from public life.

Pioneer settler, soldier, miner, businessman, and public servant, George Laird Shoup died in Boise, Idaho, December 21, 1904. When the time came to nominate someone to represent Idaho in statuary hall in Congress, Shoup was chosen. His statue was installed in 1910. Senator William Borah's tribute to Shoup sums up his character and explains the respect the people of Idaho had for him: "He stood forth a leader. He had only such education as he could secure in a few months in the common schools, but united with rare judgment, a perception almost intuitive, a keen, quick, unerring knowledge of men, a practical wisdom gathered during his long, active career in the school of life, he was a safe, trusted and able counselor in all matters of private and public concern."

From the guide to the Papers, 1861-1958, (University of Idaho Library Special Collections and Archives)

George Laird Shoup was born on June 15, 1836 in Kittaning, Pennsylvania. He was educated at the schools of Freeport and Slatelick, Pennsylvania. George L. Shoup and his family moved to Galesburg, Illinois around 1852, where he raised stock. In 1859, George L. Shoup moved to Denver, Colorado, as captain of a wagon train. He later established a small general store near Denver and was involved in small-scale mining. In 1861, George Shoup joined a company of Independent Scouts of Colorado volunteers. He served in Mexico and Colorado from 1862 to 1863. By 1864, he rose to the rank of colonel in the Third Colorado Cavalry. That same year he attended the first state constitutional convention.

At the close of the Civil War, George Shoup established a general store in Virginia City, Montana. In 1866, he opened a store in Salmon City and moved there permanently in 1867. In 1874, he was sent to the territorial legislature from Lemhi County, where he served in the lower house. He was also a delegate to the 1880 Republican National Convention and a member of the Republican National Committee, from 1880 to 1884 and again in 1888. From 1884 to 1885, he served as United States commissioner for Idaho at the exposition in New Orleans.

In 1889, George L. Shoup was elected governor of Idaho Territory. He also served as Idaho's first governor, when it became a state the following year. During his tenure as governor, he helped to establish friendly ties with the Indians. He also served as Idaho's first United States Senator, from December 1890 to March 1901. He was defeated in the election of 1900 by Fred T. DuBois. George Shoup married Lena Darnutzer, a native of Switzerland, in 1868. Lena and George Shoup had six children. George Shoup died December 21, 1904 in Salmon City, ID and is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Boise, Idaho.

From the guide to the Goerge L. Shoup Letterpress Book, 1889-1902, (Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library Archives and Special Collections)


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  • Native Americans
  • Massacres
  • Governors--Idaho--Correspondence
  • Idaho
  • Mormons
  • Business, Industry, and Labor
  • Judges
  • Frontier and pioneer life
  • Mines and Mineral Resources
  • Newspapers
  • General stores--History--Sources
  • Indians of North America--Wars--1862-1865
  • Photographs
  • Civil Procedure and Courts


  • Governor of Idaho Territory, 1889-1890; Governor of Idaho, 1890; U.S. Senator, 1890-1901


  • Colorado--Boulder (as recorded)
  • Idaho--Birch Creek (as recorded)
  • Idaho--Bonanza City (as recorded)
  • Virginia City (Mont.) (as recorded)
  • Salmon (Idaho) (as recorded)
  • Idaho--Salmon (as recorded)
  • Idaho (as recorded)
  • Idaho (as recorded)
  • Colorado (as recorded)
  • Lemhi Valley (Idaho) (as recorded)
  • Idaho (as recorded)
  • Salmon (Idaho) (as recorded)
  • Bonanza (Idaho) (as recorded)
  • Salmon City (Idaho) (as recorded)